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Gaochang Ancient City

Gaochang Ancient CityIn the boundless desolate Gebi desert stand the ruins of the Gaochang Ancient City, shining like a resplendent precious stone inlaid in the barren desert and shining on the Silk Road. Gaochang is located at the foot of the Flaming Mountain, about 46 kilometers (about 29 miles) southeast of Turpan. Withstanding the test of time and weather, the ancient city of Gaochang, and the ancient city of Jiaohe, are the best-preserved ruins of the ancient cities in China. It was classified as an important cultural unit protected by the state in 1961.

Gaochang Ancient City was built as a garrison town in the first century B.C., initially called Gaochang Wall, and later renamed Kharakhoja, Kocho or King City. It was a key point along the Silk Road. During the successive dynasties, it was ruled as Gaochang Prefecture, Gaochang Kingdom and West Prefecture. By the 14th century, the city was damaged and abandoned due to warfare between Mongolian aristocrats and Uigurs. After 2,000 years, the weather-beaten ancient city still displays its past greatness and glory even though the walls are incomplete and the magnificent outline remains.

The ruins of Gaochang Ancient City are an irregular square, covering an area of about 2,200,000 sq meters (2,631,178 sq yards). The layout is similar to that of Chang'an City in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The city is composed of three sections: an outer city, an inner city and a palace city.

The outer Gaochang Ancient City with a perimeter of 5.4 kilometers (3.4 miles), is enclosed by a city wall of 12 meters (39 feet) thick and 11.5 meters (37.7 feet) high, and built with tamped earth. Its nine city gates are situated in the four cardinal points. The gates in the west are the best preserved. In the southwestern and southeastern parts of the outer city stand two temples ruins. The temple in the southwestern corner consists of a gate, a courtyard, a sermon hall, a sutra depository and monks' abodes. The southeastern temple consists of a polygonal tower and a worship grotto, where splendid murals remains are well preserved.

The inner Gaochang Ancient City, located right in the middle of the outer city, has a perimeter of 3 kilometers (2 miles). The western and southern parts of the city walls are well preserved. While the eastern and southern parts were badly damaged, only with the northeastern highlands and the southeastern earthen platforms are still visible. No trace of the inner city's gates remain.Relics of Gaochang Ancient City

 

Gaochang Ancient City Tour

As one of the key points along the Silk Road, Gaochang Ancient City was also a sanctuary of world religious culture. Xuanzhuang, a well-known Buddhist monk in the Tang Dynasty stopped here and delivered lectures on his way to India. Today, the remains standing here remind us of the grandeur and prosperity of the ancient city.